To initiate, let's begin with the serious issues of crime and addiction, but with a different view.
Imagine yourself living in a slum, studying in the day and toiling it away in sweat and blood at night to support the well-being of yourself and your loved ones. Feel the pressures of your future and the hopelessness of your consequences weigh on your shoulders, so heavily that you're unable to shake it off even for a second. Your friends and family having nothing but aspirations for you, never understanding how the expectations make you feel bound and suffocated. You need to escape, to be set free even if it for a moment. To enter a world where your complications are no longer familiar, a swift solution to everything. Drugs, at that moment, may seem like a godsend; the perfect distraction. That's where the Dhaka Hub of Global Shapers stepped in.
They organised TaalGoal, a one-day football tournament for underprivileged children from different areas across Dhaka. The tournament featured 16 teams and 128 children, both boys and girls between the ages of 10 to 14, from Geneva Camp, Rayerbazar, Abdullahpur, Notunbazar, Karail and Kamrangirchar areas.
When the Shapers spread into these slums days before the event and spent time with them, they asked the children, “What do you want?” These kids were not just students, but most being employed in some form into menial, low-pay jobs. “I work in a motorcycle repair store,” answered TaalGoal participant Raja, looking away in embarrassment while Shojib, beside him, mumbled, “I help in my family's tailoring store.”
Their answers were simple – to play and be children again. After devoting entire days and even playing football to cap the research visits off, the Global Shapers came to a seemingly trivial initiative of a football tournament, one which would conclusively have a goliath impact.
“We realised that these kids have lost meaning and purpose to their lives. We wanted them to have a day off, to have something to look forward to,” said Adnan MS Fakir, Global Shaper.
The tournament began at 9am on Friday, November 6, and was held at the Bangladesh National Handball Stadium. Among the girls’ teams, Red Hunter and Phoenix reached the finals and Red Hunter became champions, beating Phoenix 3-2 on a tiebreaker. Rubina Akhter of the winning team became the best player.
From the boys’ teams, Jagroto 8 became the champions beating Natunbazar 1. Hasan from the runners up team bagged the best player trophy.
Chief guests at the event were one of Bangladesh’s best footballers of all time Badal Rai and revered sports commentator Chowdhury Zafarullah Sharafat.
“More people today would be able to identify Maradona than the president of Argentina, and this legendary footballer was once an underprivileged child. This shows the need to create such opportunities for the underprivileged children of Bangladesh,” said Sharafat at the closing and prize giving ceremony of TaalGoal. Saif Kamal, Global Shaper, added, “Who knows where the next Maradona may be slumbering? They deserved a shot”
Special guests British high commissioner Robert Gibson, and Deputy high commissioner Mark Clayton were also present to show their support.
The Global Shapers Community is a network of hubs developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, their achievements and their drive to make a contribution to their communities. It is an initiative of the World Economic Forum (WEF), and has various Shapers communities in different cities across the world.
This is the first such event held by the Dhaka Shapers. Through this tournament, they aim to promote an inclusive society where no child is denied basic right to recreations such as sports, regardless of their background and/or social status.
It all comes down to a simple thought. The underprivileged are forced into a path of darkness when the choice of a dignified life is diminished. What was done here, was that option being given to them again.